In Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412 (1985), and Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168 (1986), this Court held that a state trial judge may, without setting forth any explicit findings or conclusions, remove a juror for cause when the judge determines the juror's views on the death penalty would substantially impair his or her ability to follow the law and perform the duties of a juror. The Court further held that a federal habeas court reviewing the decision to remove the juror must defer to the trial judge's ability to observe the juror's demeanor and credibility, and apply the statutory presumption of correctness to the judge's implicit factual determination of the juror's substantial impairment.Did the Ninth Circuit err by not deferring to the trial judge's observations and by not applying the statutory presumption of correctness in ruling that the state court decision to remove a juror was contrary to clearly established federal law?
John J. SamsonFor Respondent:
Office of the Attorney General
Suzanne Lee Elliott
Law Office Suzanne Lee Elliott
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